Read Amaranthine (Willow Shadows Book 1) Online
Authors: Lanie Jacobs
Copyright © 2015 Lanie Jacobs
All rights reserved.
ISBN 13: 9781508618621
Galena, Illinois: January 9
16 years ago
nn Marie stood at the edge of the room as she watched her children sleeping peacefully in their beds. She fought the overwhelming urges coursing through her body and the motherly instinct that told her to grab them and run for her life. No doubt she could make it to the edge of the woods that surrounded her house before they caught up to her, but then what would she do? She was only one person; she would not be able to fight them on her own, and she wasn’t strong enough to do any real damage to the man who had spent the last couple of years searching for her, Braedon.
The cottage house was aged when she found it, but with time and determination, it had become a home for her and her beautiful girls. Her oldest girl at just three years of age had sandy blonde hair and honey-colored skin; she lay asleep with her hands beside her face as if she were praying. Her youngest tiny baby girl slept quietly in her pink flannel night gown and was the exact opposite of her eldest daughter with hair dark as a raven and pale ivory skin, a mirror image of Ann Marie herself. Tears falling silently down her cheeks, she gently kissed each of their heads and with overwhelming sadness flowing in her voice, she softly spoke the last words they would ever hear from her, “I love you.” Ann Marie wondered if her final three words to her children were going to be enough to cover the guilt that plagued her mind, guilt that most mothers would normally feel in this type of predicament.
Ann Marie’s mind was frantically racing, desperately looking for a way out, only this time she knew she had no way out, no one to turn to and no hope of making it out alive.
I will not go without a fight I will fight with a fury he has never seen in me.
Ann Marie was no fool; she knew that this day would come, but she had just bet on hope with little regard as to the need for time. She had two years to plan while being hidden away from everyone and everything she knew, carefully watching every move she made and every person she came across. She thought she had been careful but the moment he sensed her, she felt it and knew she had made a grave mistake this time.
She could feel Braedon as he came closer, with a sickening tightness that gripped at her stomach and chest, making her feel as though her heart was being squeezed. The feeling was a familiar friend and one she could always depend on when he got close. She could hear him laughing in her head, taunting and teasing her because they both knew that she would lose this last fight.
As nightfall descended across the horizon, Ann Marie could sense his presence getting stronger the closer he came. He was coming for the baby, her baby, which bore the mark, and the mark meant she would have unspeakable powers that would transcend on her eighteenth birthday, powers that could help the dark side gain control of their world. He would take these powers from her. If Braedon got a hold of her, he would keep her prisoner. She would have to survive him torturing her body and taunting her until the change was upon her. Then when he was done with her, he would kill her and it would come as fast as draining the blood from her body unless Ann Marie took final control of a game she had grown tired of. Although cruel, her plan was also one that would in time bring healing. The alternative meant not only would her daughter suffer unspeakable pain during the time of her life that would be in his hands, but also that her powers would be used for evil against the human race if Braedon gained control of it. Rogue vampires would roam freely, raising fear and reaping havoc in the unsuspecting humans. No one would go unharmed and all would suffer.
She started to remember when her mother would tell her about the marked children, how only one child was born every few hundred years and how the last known child died at birth. Ann Marie always thought all the stories were just folklore. That was until her child was born with the rare mark.
The small reddish crescent moon lay just above the inside of her wrist. When Ann Marie discovered the mark the night of her birth, she knew she would someday have to pay the price to keep her safe, and her life might be the ultimate cost.
Cackling in the distance brought her back from the memories and she froze with summit fear. She sobbed softly, barely aware of the tears that fell down her cheeks from the pungent smell of gasoline slapping her in the face, burning deep into her nose as she poured it throughout the house making sure she soaked everything from the walls to the floor. She knew when it was done she would be dead, and she would never again be able to hold or kiss her children. She heard the vile creatures, again, only this time they were closer than she expected them to be, and she let panic fuel her movements as she quickly lit a match from the box she had in her pocket mere seconds before. She dropped the match just before her feet and watched wide eyed as
the whole place became engulfed in flames instantly. In a daze, she watched as the flames rose to the ceiling, covering the entire room, swaying back and forth as if they were fighting each other to be in control. The fire burned, devouring everything it touched. As the flames grew, they began to flicker closer to her body, almost daring to touch her.
She could feel them outside now; she heard their laughter as her despair grew into a cold ugly rage. Jerking her head aside, she could hear the banging at the door and the scratching of their nails on the outside of the house.
Hearing his voice, Ann Marie snapped out of her stupor. “She doesn’t have it in her to kill her own children. She’s weak and pathetic; fear runs through her veins flowing through her entire body. We wait. She will bring them to come to us.”
Ann Marie laughed in her moment of angst.
truly isn’t as smart as he thinks he is
Braedon knew nothing about the love of a mother and what an overwhelming strength that love could bring. She would not give him her children; she would rather die. That is why she started the fire. They would not enter the house with the flames, and they would not be able to touch her babies.
“It’s time,” Ann Marie spoke out loud to herself as she reached down and picked up an old rusty dagger that she had placed on the floor beside the gas can.
She glanced back one more time, mentally taking in the last visual she would have of her sleeping babies before she turned to face the front door. Taking a deep breath, she tried to steady her racing heart as she moved forward. She could feel the sting of the hot tears that were streaming down her face as she reached for the door knob. When she stepped out on the front porch, she saw them crouching
in front of Braedon, swaying back and forth as if they couldn’t wait to jump on Ann Marie and rip her to pieces.
But instead of attacking her, the demons moved out of her path as she made her way to Braedon. He looked at her with eyes black as night, yet, somehow they smoldered red behind the darkness of his soul. In one swift movement, he was inches from her face. She could smell the rancid stench of rotting blood on his breath as the heat of it fell against the skin on her neck.
“What did you do, Ann Marie?” he yelled at her as he grabbed her face with his hand, digging his blood-stained dirty nails into her pale skin, causing blood to drip from her cheek.
Ann Marie smiled as the blood trickled down to her chin, “I would rather burn my children then hand them over to a monster like you,” she spoke calmly, her raspy voice never betraying her fear.
She reached for the dagger that was still concealed in her pocket. Inhaling sharp gasps of air, she swiftly plunged it deep into his heart. Braedon gasped in surprise at her feeble attempt to hurt him, but he didn’t loosen his grip. Grinning sinisterly, Ann Marie jabbed him, again, but this time in the stomach. She brought her face closer to his, her lips softly grazing his ear and whispered, “You will burn in hell.”
Braedon pressed his mouth on hers, crushing their lips together in a painful kiss. He then looked at Ann Marie as a hellish smile crept across his beautiful but monstrous face while slowly removing the knife that was still lingering in his gut. Ann Marie closed her eyes; her final thoughts were flickering memories of her children as the warm blade sweep across her neck.
halida sat in her cold and crowded History class hunched over a wide wooden desk, topped with a hard black
surface. She pressed her hand
to her forehead, trying unsuccessfully to block out the overwhelming annoying sound of Mr. Hinny’s nasally voice as he spoke of the 18th century American Revolution.
I’m pretty sure there was something about the Parliament in today’s lecture
She was too busy staring at the clock doing the count down until the final bell of the day rang.
Two weeks and I will finally be a high school graduate.
Khalida rolled her eyes as the familiar flirty voice in the back of the room started giggling; it was no doubt the amazing
Vega Harshaw who was the absolute definition of a best friend and Khalida’s closest confidant. Vega, being newly single, was already on the rebound, and from the sounds of it, she would have a new boyfriend before the end of the day. Vega was already in prowl status, batting her long luscious lashes, eyeing her next target with her hungry, playful set of baby blues. The poor guy never stood a chance; with the famous Vega hair flip, he was a goner.
“Vega!” she snapped, the hushed tone making the word sound a little harsher than Khalida had intended, “quit looking at that poor guy like he is your next meal.”
The look on her face getting caught flirting was priceless. Vega didn’t care to be scorned and disliked being called out even less. Vega, not missing a beat sent a casual flip of her middle finger in Khalida’s
direction. Khalida, returned the crass show of affection by sticking
her finger in her mouth, making a gagging noise to show her distaste.
Khalida’s friendship with Vega started the first day they met which also happened to be the day Khalida moved to Lake Travis. Khalida moved to town with her mother from a small town in Illinois. The two of them had been inseparable since. Vega had strawberry blonde hair just short of her shoulders with clear baby blue eyes. She was short and petite in stature with a curvy body, making her a target for the guys at school. It was no secret that all the guys loved her, and even less of a secret that she loved them back.
As the bell rang and everyone was leaving, Khalida had to wait for her hopelessly romantic best friend whose hormones were climbing the charts as the flirting started to gravitate to the next level.
Oh great! Her and the random are exchanging phone numbers.
“If you weren’t my best friend I would tell you what a slut you are,” Khalida smirked as she laughed playfully at the hurt look that spread across Vega’s face just before it disappeared into a devilish grin.
“And Khal, if you weren’t my best friend I would tell you what a prude stick stuck up the ass nun you are, but you are my best friend and since I love you, I’ll just tell you we need to do something about that whole virginity thing of yours,” Vega shot back in response to Khalida’s little snide remark.
Ouch. What can I say to that
“There is nothing wrong with waiting for the right person. I want it to be right, not Mr. Right Now.”
“Hey. You have to get through all the wrong ones to find the right one. Plus, you have more fun along the way.” Vega laughed. “Speaking of Mr. Right, there’s Luke at two o’clock.”
Crap. Why does she always do that? Luke is, well he is, Luke. And as always, he is just what I needed to make my day more exciting.
As they passed a small group of students, she noticed Luke standing beside a petite blonde with killer long legs.
Luke’s eyes met hers. “I swear it’s like he is trying to make me jealous.” she whispered softly to Vega as they passed what seemed to be an intimate gathering. Jealousy panged at Khalida’s heart as she felt like a trespasser interrupting.
“Girl, you’re the one that turned him down last time. Everyone knows, including Luke that you are playing hard to get or whatever it is you think you’re doing. Don’t even try to deny it.”
“Whatever you want to think, Vega. I just don’t see the point in being with someone that’s hot one minute and can then give the Antarctic a run for its money the next minute,” Khalida said back, blankly trying to avoid the challenging comment of her best friend.
I’m not going to let her bait me into this conversation. No way!
Passing by, the word “Slut”
almost slipped out, but silently mouthing the word seemed more subtle. Amused, Luke’s eyes danced as he laughed at Khalida’s friendly attack. What she took to be a counter attack was Luke bending down to whisper something in the blonde’s ear while keeping his mischievous eyes in contact with Khalida. Quickly tearing her eyes away from the apparent attempt to make her jealous, she slipped her hand around Vega’s slender arm and kept walking. Khalida walked with determination, trying not to let him get to her.
If he thinks for one second that pathetic display would get a rise out of me he is sorely mistaken.
Distraction clung to her mind like a shadow as she tried to shake thoughts of Luke and how he was acting. In
a hurry to get away from Luke, she ignored the basics of walking
and the not paying attention part would soon bring her into a different reality. Unaware of the mess she was about to find herself in, and still in a hurry to put some distance between herself and Luke, she slammed into someone who was apparently standing still.
Her books went flying through the hallway.
“Watch it, Skank!” bellowed an angry but familiar voice.
Great. Out of all the people in the world to run into, it had to be the lying, cheating ex-boyfriend with an anger problem. Is it just me or is today my lucky day?
“It was an accident, Carey, just chill out,” Vega’s defensive tone shared just a hint of warning.
He just stood there, glaring at her with his coal black hate-filled eyes.
“That is exactly what she is, Vega, an accident,” he snarled as he turned his head to ignore the girls standing in front of him.
Khalida seriously did not want to put up with him, today, or any other day. The further he stayed away from her, the better off everyone was, but at this exact moment, Khalida had taken enough of Carey’s crap. Her normal sweet demeanor was gone and replaced by a pissed-off Khalida that was fueled by rage.
“Whatever, Carey. I’m seriously over you and your overly dramatic male ego. Why can’t you just leave me alone? Stay the hell away from me, and I promise you, I won’t give you another thought!” Khalida hissed as she attempted to save face and walk away from the confrontation that was taking place in the school hallway with half of the student body staring at them wide-eyed and ready to see a fight. She tried to tuck away the anger that had overcome her just moments before.
Carey scorned a laughed as he watched Vega bend over to help her friend pick up her books and papers that were scattered across the bland white tile floor of the school hallway. Redness crept across Khalida’s cheeks, as embarrassment set in. If that wasn’t bad enough, she was pretty sure Luke had seen the entire incident. She could feel the all too familiar warm tingling feeling on the back of her neck that happened every time Luke was near. Knowing he was close enough to hear the confrontation made her want to run and hide, but instead, she held her head up and tried to grasp complete composure, determined not to give Carey the satisfaction of seeing her upset or letting Luke know she was upset. Shaking on the inside, somehow she seemed to pull off the coolness she wanted on the outside.
“You’re nothing but a whore!” Carey snapped angrily as he turned his back to storm off.
The shock of what Carey said hadn’t had time to register when Khalida saw someone moving very fast toward them from her peripheral vision.
Luke, awe, hell!
She threw her books down and ran to get between Luke and Carey. Not that it really mattered if Luke gave him a good beating, Khalida just didn’t want to give Luke the satisfaction of coming to her defense.
“What Luke, you jealous that I got with your girl? Or is this about something else?” Carey challenged Luke smugly.
In a split second thought, she decided to back up.
Why am I trying to stop Luke from beating the holy hell out of Carey?
Just as she backed up, Luke sent Carey flying back with one punch.
Serves the jerk right.
“How you feeling now?” Luke said with a calming placidity as his lips crept up with a cocky lopsided tilt.
Luke turned back to Khalida, his wild eyes revealed just how much he enjoyed putting Carey on his ass. “You okay, Khally?” He bent down and started to gather the books that she threw back on the ground.
“Yes,” she said, lifting her chin stubbornly, still a little bitter about him rescuing her so to speak, “you didn’t have to.”
“You really don’t want to go there with me, Love,” Luke said as he kept a careful eye on Carey even as he turned to walk away.
“I’m going to call you tonight,” he spoke calmly with total confidence, ignoring the fact a confrontation took place just mere minutes before.
She nervously glanced over at Vega who was already wiggling and dancing in place at the sound of Luke’s words to her best friend.
She let out a low deep sigh knowing that fighting with him would only fuel his stubbornness more. Weighing her options, she knew she couldn’t keep fighting the feelings she had for him, “Yes, you can call me,” Khalida stuttered as she became painfully aware of how enthralled she seemed about him calling.
“I didn’t ask,”
he spoke as a sly grin tugged at his lips. She took her books from his hands, but before she turned to go, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her to his chest. Standing six foot three, he dwarfed Khalida’s five foot eight stance by almost a foot. He gently kissed her forehead, placing his chin on top of her head for a brief moment before releasing the hold he had on her as he turned to go.
The scrawny blonde he was talking to before he came to Khalida’s defense stood by the double doors of the school with a look of disdain on her face. Flipping her hair, she turned and sashayed away without her prize.
A smile threatened to form across Khalida’s face as she turned towards Vega who gleaming and bouncing for joy.
I told you he wants you. He wants you bad!” Vega’s perfect row of white teeth beamed from ear to ear.
“What are we doing this weekend?” Vega asked, jumping around impatiently, wanting to get out of the school.
“My mom has to work all weekend so she won’t be around. We can go rent some movies or maybe go down to the lake?”
Khalida suggested overly eager for her normal self.
crap, I can’t. I forgot I have a date tonight with What’s-His-Face, and I won’t be able to come over…well, unless the date has a monumental malfunction and I decide to go home early,” Vega replied with a wide grin across her face as though she had just stolen candy from a baby.
“A date? And you don’t even remember his name? You are such a harlot,” Khalida laughed at the hurt, surprised look that rolled across Vega’s face.
“What can I say? Whatever his name is, his hotness conquered that minor detail.”
“You think he is a hottie. I think he is a weirdo. He stares at your chest. I bet he can’t even tell you what color of eyes you have.”